Architecture

Director of Studies: Dr Felipe Hernández

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Number of students admitted each year: 2 to 3 

Dr Felipe Hernández, an Architect and University Lecturer in architectural design, history and theory, has worked extensively on Latin America and other areas in the Developing World, including Africa, the Caribbean and South East Asia. He is the author of Bhabha for Architects (Routledge 2010) and Beyond Modernist Masters: Contemporary Architecture in Latin America (Birkhauser 2009). He is also co-editor of Rethinking the Informal City: Critical Perspectives from Latin America (Berghahn 2009) as well as Transculturation: Cities, Spaces and Architectures in Latin America (Rodopi 2005). He is currently co-editing a second issue on Latin American informal settlements for Birkhauser and writing a monograph on Modern Architecture in South and Central America.

Michael Driver MA DipArch RIBA is a member of Christ's College who graduated with a degree in Architecture and Fine Arts and a Diploma in Architecture. Mr Driver spent the early part of his career in professional practice before joining the staff of the School of Architecture in Canterbury where he combined teaching with working as a solo-practitioner. He retired as Head of School to become CEO of the Brick Development Association, where he maintained his interest in teaching. Currently he is an Affiliated Lecturer in the Department of Architecture where he specialises in Construction and Design.

A unique environment for studying architecture

Cambridge is an amazing place to study architecture. The beautiful buildings, courts, interiors and gardens of Cambridge include the work of great architects from Sir Christopher Wren to Sir James Stirling, Ralph Erskine, Edward Cullinan, Erik Sorensen and Sir Michael Hopkins. The teaching is ranked the highest in the country, and there is an outstanding record of graduate achievement. 
 

"The study of Architecture at Cambridge doesn’t only deal with buildings. From building a tent in the Fens, to studying the Greek Agora in lectures, we’re encouraged to think of people, places, materials, philosophy and history, and only then consider the actual building! The course here has been a life-changing experience, meeting amazing people, creating incredible things and overall enjoying myself!" - Kathryn


The Department is organised within the Faculty of Architecture and History of Art. Our Architecture BA emphasises the teaching of architecture as a cultural as well as technological subject. We have close links with our neighbours in the Department of Engineering. Our course is oriented around design – from the large scale of a city or a region to the smallest detail – and is supported by lectures which draw upon the humanities (history and theory) and sciences (construction, environmental design and structures).
 

The only course at Cambridge that combines the intellectual challenge of a Cambridge degree with the opportunity for creative design.


What are we looking for?

We welcome students with a wide variety of A levels – in fact, an enthusiasm for both the arts and the sciences is desirable. We are looking for candidates with very good academic qualifications who are creative and have the ability to represent the world through a variety of ways. For example candidates with an ability to draw in various media, and who can make objects (sculptures, installations, models, etc.) in different materials and employing different techniques. An interest in the history of art and architecture is important, as is a knowledge of mathematics to at least a good GCSE standard.


Entry requirements

Typical A level offer A*AA or 42 points in the IB with 7,7,6 in relevant subjects at Higher Level. Students are expected to have a combination of subjects that proves their proficiency to study arts, humanities and sciences. There are no specific requirements, however, A Level Art is desirable, as is AS Level Mathematics or Physics. Applicants without a formal qualification in Art are encouraged to contact the Admissions Office regarding the standard of work required for a competitive portfolio.

All those applying to the University of Cambridge for Architecture who are called for interviews will be asked to sit a written assessment while in Cambridge, normally on the same day as their interviews. The same assessment will be used regardless of the College to which you have applied. This assessment will examine your academic abilities, knowledge-base and potential, and will form part of our holistic admissions process. Further information, including example papers and subject content, can be found on the University website.

In the case of Architecture, international applicants are advised to apply for interview in Cambridge rather than an overseas interview (Architecture, is one of the restricted subjects).

Portfolio advice

All applicants are expected to show a portfolio of recent work at interview but this isn’t expected to be work of an architectural nature (eg plans, sections etc).

Admissions Tutors will want to see work that illustrates your interests, experience and ability in the visual and material arts. Normally drawing and painting forms the basis of the portfolio but other media such as sculpture, installation, photography or video art may also be included.

It’s usually sufficient for three-dimensional work to be exhibited in photographs.

A sketchbook with ongoing drawings is extremely helpful and applicants are encouraged to take one to the interview. It may be in any media (pencil, charcoal, crayon etc) and should include a variety of subject matter. The work can be material prepared for school-leaving examinations but creative work executed outside formal courses is also welcome.

Remember that the portfolio is not simply a compilation of work, it is itself a creative piece that shows your ability to present and communicate your ideas. So, think carefully about the best way to organise your portfolio.


Teaching, travel and technology

Our Department is small and friendly, with a very good staff/student ratio. We have a superb Faculty Library, dedicated computer facilities and photographic areas.

Architecture at Cambridge is unashamedly academic in its approach. Like other architecture schools elsewhere the core of the teaching programme is in practical design, carried out in studios. Projects are set throughout the year and you’re required to produce models and drawings to communicate your design ideas. The Department provides studio desk space together with workshop and computer facilities. You’re supervised on your projects at least once a week during individual studio tutorials and regular critical reviews in which you’re encouraged to explore different approaches, and to develop your skills, and, ultimately, your own design philosophy. Studio work is time-consuming and architecture probably requires

more hours per week than any other course in the University. The course also involves lectures, classes, visits to buildings under construction or restoration, and a highly enjoyable trip to Rome in the first year.


Professional qualification

Successful completion of the three year undergraduate course in Architecture at Cambridge carries exemption from Part 1 of the Royal Institute of British Architects’ (RIBA) examinations – the first stage in qualifying as an architect. This means that the course differs from most others at Cambridge in that it must be studied as three continuous years. It’s not possible to study another course first and then switch to Architecture without starting again at the beginning.

The Department now offers an option in its MPhil course in Environmental Design in Architecture, which has candidate status for RIBA Part 2. Qualification for registration as an architect by the Architect’s Registration Board of the UK is dependent on two years’ supervised office experience (at least one of which is following a RIBA Part 2 qualification) and then satisfactory performance in the RIBA Part 3 Professional Practice Examination. The Department has introduced a very successful Part 3 course jointly with the University’s Institute of Continuing Education.


Changing course

Students can opt to move to other courses within the University after Part IA. However, this is very rare and most architecture students stay for all three years (see above regarding professional qualification).


Careers and research

Most of our graduates continue into professional training, but a number enter research. We have a long-standing tradition of research excellence, in areas such as history and philosophy of architecture, environmentally-responsible design, architecture and the moving image, urban design and transport planning, the mitigation of earthquake and flooding risk, and disaster relief.
 

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